E. European Bands Storm W. Europe

In the end it was a battle of the Slavs. Earlier this month, in front of a TV audience of 100 million, Marija Serifovic, a pudgy Serbian singer, beat out Ukraine's Verka Serduchka in the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. And though Eurovision may not represent the cream of Europe's musical crop, it certainly earns winners recognition; last year's victor, Lordi—a heavy-metal band from Finland whose members dress up like monsters—became a household name across the Continent. That's good news for other East European musicians hoping to break into the wider (and richer) West European market; eight out of the top-10 bands in this year's contest hailed from former communist countries.

This summer expect to hear a lot more music echoing out of the East. In July more than 150,000 fans will converge on the grounds of an old fortress in Novi Sad, Serbia, to listen to the likes of the Beastie Boys, Robert Plant and Snoop Dogg—as well as lesser-known bands like Serbia's Obojeni Project and Polish DJ Magda. Even Western festivals like the Lowlands in the Netherlands, Britain's Glastonbury and St. Gallen Festival in Switzerland will be showcasing Eastern European bands this summer. "It will only be a matter of time before someone from Eastern Europe explodes [on the scene] in a big way, which will then open up the floodgates for everyone," says Henry McGroggan, a Scottish-born Warsaw-based concert promoter.

It's actually surprising it's taken East European bands this long to win notice outside their own borders. Since the collapse of communism, books, fashion and film from the region have flourished in Western Europe, thanks to designers like Slovenia's Lara Bohinc and such film directors as Bosnia's Emir Kusturica.

But music has always been a tougher sell. Never mind that these bands are often singing in unfamiliar languages; their sound—which can include trumpets and horns mixed with heavy-metal guitars—is alien to Western ears. As Eastern Europeans have begun to move freely around the Continent, however, they have brought their musical tastes with them. Concert promoters in the West have brought bands over to play for the diaspora, and local audiences are starting to get hooked. The Polish band Myslovitz, for instance, toured a few years ago with Simple Minds; then last year the Irish record company Fifa released Myslovitz's album in Ireland. They built up an Irish fan base thanks to influential DJs spinning their tunes. "A lot of Irish people woke up to the fact that despite [their] not singing in English, it is really good music," says Fifa's Ashley Keating.

Alexander Kasparov and Armin Siebert are banking on such awakenings. Almost three years ago the former EMI execs launched the Berlin-based label East Blok Music. "Both of us knew there is an enormous amount of great music coming out from Eastern Europe that, properly marketed and released, would definitely have resonance from Canada to Japan," says Kasparov. So far they have released eight albums and signed three bands: Hungary's Little Cow, Russia's Leningrad and Ukraine's Haydamaky. This month Little Cow, whose catchy ska-funk tunes will be playing across Hungary and Austria this summer as well as at Lowlands Aug. 17-19, was named a top band by Britain's Songlines magazine.

Haydamaky, which blends funky trumpets into a heavy-rock sound, will also be performing across Europe this summer, including at Germany's Jahninselfestl (June 15), the Netherlands' Festival Mundial (June 16) and the Festival Músicas do Mundo in Portugal (July 22). Leningrad will play at the St. Gallen Festival in Switzerland (June 30), as well as in Vienna (July 2), Italy's Arezzo Wave Festival (July 21) and Finland's Ruisrock (Aug. 4). Two Polish bands—the English-singing Poise Rite, and Habakuk, a fusion of reggae with Polish lyrics—will take the stage at Glastonbury to highlight the plight of migrant farm workers in Britain. And since her Eurovision win, Serifovic has already rocked several European cities with her kitschy, sweeping ballad "Molitva." If her music is any indication, the sun will continue to rise in the East.